About the Author
Kelsey D'Auben is a Senior at Florida State Universtiy studying Creative Writing and French Language. After she graduates next year she plans on moving to New York in hopes of pursuing a career in writing and comedy, two of her biggest passions.

It’s Not Locker Room Talk, It’s Sexual Assault

Two weeks ago an audio recording of Donald Trump, obtained and released by the Washington Post, caused an understandable amount of outrage in the public.

The recording is a disgusting and vulgar conversation between the current presidential candidate and Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” back in 2005, in which Trump describes his sexual advances of a married woman, saying to Bush “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab ‘em by the pussy. You can do anything,” and other very explicit things about women.

Although there are many, many people who are rightfully outraged that the man who is currently running for the most important job in the nation thought that speaking about women in such a demeaning manner was okay, there are still too many people who are still blindly defending his bigotry.

Using the logic of “All men talk about women that way when they aren’t around. It’s just locker room talk,” to attempt to justify blatant misogyny and normalization of rape culture.

But the thing that they don’t understand, or maybe just completely refuse to recognize, is that what he said isn’t infuriating just because it’s Trump saying something ignorant and stupid, like he always does.

It’s not harmless talk, or just “boys being boys.” They aren’t “just words” as Trump keeps saying. It needs to be taken more seriously, especially since Donald Trump is actually an alleged rapist.

He is currently in the middle of civil litigation for the rape of a thirteen-year-old girl.

The now adult “Jane Doe,” whose actual identity has not been revealed, claims that Trump along with a registered sexual offender, Jeffrey Epstein, sexually assaulted her in 1994. Epstein served 13 months in 2008 for the solicitation of an underage girl for prostitution. Both deny these allegations.

The case will be brought to court on December 16th, which is well after the election date. If Trump were to win, he could attend a civil trial only weeks after being elected President of the United State for the sexual assault of a minor.

And Jane Doe isn’t the only woman coming forward after the release of the tapes. A former journalist at People Magazine says Trump physically assaulted her in 2005. “I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat,” Natasha Stoynoff writes in a recollection of the incident published by People Magazine on October 12th.

The New York Times also released an article on the 12th of this month, which includes the testimonies of two other women who claim they were touched inappropriately by Trump in the past.

Donald Trump was never qualified to be president to begin with, but people still backed him anyways.

But we need to stop encouraging this behavior, it’s only going to get worse.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Daniel Oines/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Exactly How Often Did Trump Interrupt Clinton During The Debate?

Last night the entire nation turned on their TV’s to watch the first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Or, to more accurately describe it, viewers watched an hour and a half of Donald Trump spouting incoherent half-sentences, flailing his arms, and interrupting Hillary Clinton nearly every time she tried to speak.

To be frank, no one was expecting Trump to do well.

He doesn’t exactly have an track record for being the most comprehensible speaker to ever run for public office. (Cicero, he is not.)

But the blatant amount of unprofessionalism displayed by Trump, toward both Clinton and debate moderator Lester Holt, was shocking even for him.

Throughout the entire debate, Trump constantly disrespected his opponent and the moderator by talking over and interrupting them countless times.

Well not exactly countless, because we were keeping track.

28 times he interrupted, to be exact. (Some outlets, put the number as high as 51 times.)

People watch the first Presidential debate of 2016 at the LBJ Library in Texas. Photo Credit: LBJ Library/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

People watch the first Presidential debate of 2016 at the LBJ Library in Texas. Photo Credit: LBJ Library/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

28 separate times during Hillary’s allotted speaking time Trump felt the overwhelming need to blurt out whatever immature and asinine comment he thought of rather than respectfully allowing his opponent finish her 2 minutes or give her rebuttal before speaking.

Not every one of these 28 times was an intrusive or rude full comment.

Actually, he mostly interrupted with audible sighs into the microphone while she was speaking, or just plainly yelling “wrong” at her midsentence.

And these 28 times don’t even include the numerous times he spoke over or made rude comments to the moderator.

“You asked me a question, did you not?” was a phrase said by Trump more than once when Holt attempted to stop Trump’s incoherent rambling and move on to the next segment of the debate, even when Holt hadn’t even really asked him anything at all.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Lws & Clrk/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Cincinnati Zoo Does Not Think Your Harambe Memes Are Dank At All

This past May following an unfortunate incident involving a young boy falling into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo a 17-year-old gorilla, named Harambe, was shot and killed.

And, as usual, the world only took the death of the late gorilla seriously for about a minute before forever immortalizing him online by turning him into a widely popular internet joke, or otherwise referred to as a “meme.”

Many examples of Harambe memes can be found on the popular website Reddit, which has an entire feed dedicated to Harambe.

At first the zoo appeared to be at least trying to ignore these jokes, hoping they would die down over time.

But as more and more Facebook posts, tweets, vines, and websites were made to joke about Harambe, the zoo has finally had enough.

“We are not amused by the memes, petitions, and signs about Harambe,” Cincinnati Zoo director, Thane Maynard told the Associated Press in an email early this week. “Our family is still healing, and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward difficult for us.”

But that won’t stop people online from being vicious.

This past weekend Maynard’s personal twitter account was hacked.

A variety of Harambe jokes were posted from Maynard’s account, most of which included hashtags such as #AnimalRights #JusticeForHarambe and the infamous #*****OutForHarambe.

He has since gotten control back over his account and removed the offending tweets.

And Maynard isn’t the only one getting slammed on twitter.

On nearly every tweet recently put out on the official Cincinnati Zoo account there are dozens of vicious and sarcastic responses condemning the zoo for their actions that resulted in Harambe’s death.

The online harassment towards the zoo got so bad that they officially deactivated their twitter account last night.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.


It’s Time To Let Gay Men Give Blood Again

This past Sunday a horrible act of terrorism occurred at Pulse Night Club, a gay club located in Orlando, Florida.

An armed gunman entered the club and opened fire killing 49 people and leaving over 50 other injured.

Local hospitals were in desperate need of blood and encouraged people to come out and donate to help save the lives of the victims of the shooting.

But because of the restrictions set out by the FDA, gay men, the group of people that was targeted during this attack, were not allowed to donate.

These “deferrals,” as the FDA calls them, were first put in place in 1983, during the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

They were put into place back when there still wasn’t much information out there about HIV/AIDS and a false stigma existed that made people think only gay people could contract the disease, which we now know to be far from the truth.

It is true that back then HIV/AIDS were more common within the LGBT+ community, but that is because at the time the use of protection during sex wasn’t thought to be necessary and was rarely ever used.

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The FDA had initially banned any man who had sexual contact with another man and any women who has had sexual contact with a man who had sexual contact with another man.

In 2015 the rules were loosened up slightly and now only restricts men who have had sexual contact with another man within the last twelve months. This prevents any sexually active gay man to be a donor.

These rules are outdated and this week prevented some members of the LGBT+ community from being able to give blood to help support and potentially save lives of the victims of their own community who were attacked.

In recent years precautions been taken within the LGBT+ community to raise awareness about contracting HIV/AIDS as well as the importance of using protection and getting regularly tested.

There have also been many scientific advancements since the restriction was first put into place and now all donated blood is screened for many different types of blood-borne, diseases including HIV/AIDS.

The ban on gay men donating blood needs to be lifted.

It was written decades ago based fear and false stigmas.

We have progressed far enough to know now that any person can contract HIV/AIDS, not just gay men.

We need to stop excusing these negative stereotypes and make a change to these rules.

Every healthy and able person should be able to help their communities and donate in trying times such as these, and we need to no longer let ignorance stop them from doing so.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

The Flower Project Inspires Women To Find Beauty Within Themselves

Lauren Laveria, a 22 year-old photographer based out of Melbourne, Florida, is creator of The Flower Project, a photo project dedicated to nude art, female empowerment, and sharing personal stories to help women feel more free in their lives. 

Each piece in the project features a girl who is naked and almost completely exposed, except for the flowers she is holding in her hands.

Every photograph is accompanied by a passage written by the model in the photo, telling an anecdote about their past or personal experience they have overcome, like they are writing in an open diary.


Laveria said about the project is “for girls who want to break free from their personal restraints.

“A lot of girls have done it just to face people who have told them that they’re worthless, they’re not worthy of even being loved and doing this helps these girls feel love for themselves,” Laveria said. 



The project started about a year ago when Laveria was working on a different photography project with two friends, a nude portrait that Laveria was excited to do but her friends felt nervous and unsure about it at first.

They were scared about the idea of being so exposed in a photo, but by the time the shoot was over the girls told Laveria how beautiful and comfortable in their bodies she had made them feel.

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Laveria also shared her own experience of posting a nude self-portrait of herself online, something she has done now on her birthday for the past three years.

She was scared at first to share it, but she ended up receiving words of encouragement that made her feel mature and confidant.

“After that I felt if I can help other girls feel this way and actually accept themselves for how they are than that is something I want to do,” Laveria said.


Since then Laveria has posted photographs and stories of one girl every week.

The Facebook page has close to 2,000 followers and is filled with nothing but love for these girls brave enough to share their stories with the world.

Laveria is truly creating a safe space for women to inspire, support, and love one another through encouragement and empowerment for each other.

“I really just want people to read the stories and relate them to their own lives and feel a lot better and realize there are a lot of things that they can do,” Laveria said. 

Year 1 of The Flower Project has finished, and Laveria is currently working on starting up Year 2.

To see her latest work you can follow The Flower Project on Facebook.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Photo Credits: The Flower Project

The Sims 4 Will Now Give Sims “Customizable” Genders

The realm of virtual reality knows no bounds, and that now includes the boundaries of gender.

On June 3rd EA Games announced their newest update of The Sims 4 will now have the option to Customize your Sim’s gender.

In the original gameplay while creating your Sim although you could alter their physical appearance almost any way you pleased, there was only a “male” and “female” option when selecting their gender.

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This was true in all four versions of the game until this recent update.

But now, you can still choose the traditional male and female options, but now may also “Customize Gender.”

This option asks a variety of questions about the Sim you are creating including if your Sim has a more feminine or masculine frame, what their toilet behaviors are, and whether or not the Sim is able to get pregnant.

Clothing selections will also not be limited based on a male or female Sim and will be able to be worn by any Sim.

On their official website,, this is what the team had to say about the newest update:

The Sims is made by a diverse team for a diverse audience, and it’s really important to us that players are able to be creative and express themselves through our games. We want to make sure players can create characters they can identify with or relate to through powerful tools that give them influence over a Sims gender, age, ethnicity, body type and more.”

This update can be done for anyone who currently owns the Sims 4 game, and will a permanent feature to any future buyers of the game.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: EA Games

Amber Heard, Yet Another Case Of Victim Blaming In The Media

Recently actress Amber Heard has faced a lot of harshness and criticism after filing for divorce against her soon-to-be ex-husband, Johnny Depp.

Heard was granted a restraining order against Depp after a fight the two had on May 21st in which Depp threw his cellphone at Heard, allegedly hitting her in the face with it.

She filed for divorce on May 23rd and appeared in court a few days later with a bruise on her right cheek.

More evidence of prior abuse has been released. Photos of Heard surfaced from a dispute back in December of last year in which Heard has bruises on her face and what appears to be a cut lip, all of which she says were from Depp.

But, many people are all too quick to discredit Heard’s accusations towards Depp because in the divorce she is seeking a spousal settlement from Depp.

They claim she is making it all up simply to get money out of him.

Heard’s lawyers, Samantha Spector and Joseph Koeing responded to these accusations: 

“Amber Heard is simply a victim of domestic violence, and none of her actions are motivated by money. Amber is a brave and financially independent woman who is showing the courage of her convictions by doing the right thing against Johnny’s relentless army of lawyers and surrogates.”

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Her lawyers also say that her waiting until now to speak out is really no different than any victim of domestic abuse “(they) think first of the harm that might come to the abuser, rather than they abuse they have already suffered.”

Unfortunately, domestic abuse and violence against women have always been a far too common occurrence in our society.

These situations were once considered “personal matters” to be handled privately behind closed doors, but have recently been gaining more and more attention as victims of these acts began to stand up and speak out against their abusers and demand justice. 

However, these courageous women are rarely met with the support they need when speaking out against their abusers.

Often women who do so are immediately discredited as liars, as women who would make up such accusations to get attention, money from the abuser, or even for the sheer pleasure of slandering their name.

This recently happened to pop-star Kesha, whose attempt to pull from her Sony contract with Dr. Luke, a man who see claims who sexually and physically abused her for years, was denied in court because the judge claimed her accusations against were not enough. 

Similar things were also said to the dozens of different women who came out and said Bill Cosby had sexually assaulted them.

Heard and many of these other women had what the public always demands out of a women claiming to be abused: photographic or video evidence, police reports filed, eye-witnesses to back-up their stories.

And yet people in our society are still hesitant to believe them, but quick to call them liars.

This practice of almost never believing the victim is what causes women to stay in dangerous situations with their abusers for years.

We as a society need to step up and listen to them when they gain the courage to speak up, and not shame them for it.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: GabboT/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou Shows Why Abuse Doesn’t Always Have To Be Physical

Over the past couple of days one of the top trending hashtags on twitter has been #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou.

Using the hashtag, women online have been able to share their experiences of past emotionally and mentally abusive relationships, helping to break the stigma that a relationship has to be physically violent to be considered abusive.

In only 140 characters women from around the world have told the horrifying and true reality that some must face every day.


For such a long time many people believed that in order to be considered an abusive relationship, there has to be a physical element to it.

Untitled3 Women who were in mentally and emotionally abusive relationships genuinely believed that if they did not have bruises or marks to show for it, that they weren’t being abused.

This idea is what for years kept women with the men who would insult, degrade, and humiliate them on a regular basis.


But using the hashtag women are banding together and taking a stand. These tweets are bringing to light elements of abuse that thousands of women always considered to just be typical parts of being in a relationship.

They want to redefine what it means to be abused. Be called degrading names, being manipulated and controlled, and broken down by someone that “loves you” isn’t normal. It isn’t something any one should have to take.

Being made to feel lesser or not good enough by a significant other is not being loved. It is abuse.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Rihanna Might Actually Pay For Your College

Notorious BadGirlRiRi has been up to some good lately.

Beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year the Grammy award winner will offer scholarships of up to $50,000 to college students through the Clara Lionel Foundation, an organization she started in 2012 in honor of her grandparents.

The organization’s goal is to “improve the quality of life for communities globally in areas of health, education, arts, and culture.”

Scholarships will be awarded on a “as-needed basis” to 50 citizens or natives of Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, or Rihanna’s own home of Barbados.

Recipients must be students who wish to further their education and have already been accepted at a four-year school in the United States. They must be considered freshman at these schools and be able to provide a birth certificate from one of the eligible countries.

Recipients of the scholarships can get an award between $5,000 and $50,000.

Rihanna spoke about her excitement for the project after the announcement on her instagram account.

“Higher education will help provide perspective, opportunities, and learning to a group of kids who really deserve it. I am thrilled to be able to do this.”

So if you’re willing to put in a little work, work, work, work, work, work, than Rihanna just might be willing to foot the bill. Application will be available for submission on June 10th, 2016.

H/T: USA Today College

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: suran2007/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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